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Getting Ready for the Hospital: Things to Pack

When a woman goes into labor, she usually wants to leave for the hospital immediately. This is a bad time to try and throw together a suitcase of items that she may need or want during her stay at the hospital. Most women try to pack a bag specifically for the trip to the hospital ahead of time and have it ready when the time comes. The following is a checklist of items that women have found to be useful in the past for packing in this labor/delivery suitcase.

Items Needed by the Mother

  1. Health Insurance ID Card - Most women carry this in their wallet. There are some, however, who may take it out and store it if it is not used often.
  2. Hospital Preregistration Forms – Many women go to the hospital or birthing center in advance of their due date and preregister to save time and paperwork later.
  3. One or more Nursing bras – Nursing bras offer more support for swollen, tender breasts and are designed to hold nursing pads in place to stop breast leakage.
  4. A Sports Bra – If a mother is going to have a water birth, a sports bra may be useful in allowing her maintain some of her dignity. Mothers not planning to breast feed have found sports bras useful in suppressing lactation.
  5. Breast Pads – Breast pads are an essential item to carry regardless of the intent to breast feed. These pads are designed to stop leakage from the breasts and prevent wet stains on shirts and blouses.
  6. Nursing Pillow – Whether a woman chooses to nurse or bottle feed her baby, a nursing pillow can help to reduce the amount of strain on her back and shoulders as she holds the baby for feeding.
  7. Nightgown and Robe – Following delivery, most women prefer to wear their own nightgown and robe rather than the gowns provided by the hospital that leave much exposure. These items should open in front if breastfeeding is planned.
  8. Slippers – Women in the early stages of labor are often encouraged to walk around the hospital. Slippers may also come in handy after delivery if the woman wants to take a walk down to the nursery to see the baby.
  9. Socks – A large percentage of women complain that they have cold feet during labor. Socks can help head off this problem. It is advisable to carry a spare pair so extras are available if one pair is soiled during the labor.
  10. Outfit to Wear Home – An outfit that fit during the sixth month of pregnancy should be the right size to wear home from the hospital.
  11. Toiletries – Many women are more comfortable if they have access to their own toothbrush, cosmetics, and other personal items.
  12. Feminine Pads – The hospital can provide pads for wearing after the birth. These pads are generally not considered very comfortable. A woman can bring her own brand of pads if she wishes. She should, however, choose overnight or maximum protection as her flow will be heavier than normal.
  13. Hair Accessory – Women with long hair usually prefer to have their hair secured away from their faces during labor. Clips, barrettes, and pony tail bands are good accessories for accomplishing this.
  14. Pillow from Home – Many women rest more comfortably on their own pillow. One important note: Use a pillow case of a different color than the hospital to keep the pillow separate from theirs.
  15. Extra Wash Cloths – Some women prefer to use their own wash cloths over the ones provided by the hospital. As with the pillowcase, wash cloths should be of a different color than that used by the hospital.
  16. Magazines or Book – During labor, a woman may not have much time for reading. After delivery, she may find she has a few minutes from time to time free for reading.
  17. Breath Mints or Strips – Nausea or vomiting can become a problem during labor for many women. Having breath mints on hand can help to freshen a woman’s mouth following bouts of nausea and make her feel more comfortable about herself.
  18. Some type of Hard Candy – Thirst can become a major issue during labor. Most women are not permitted to drink during labor because of the chance of nausea and vomiting. A piece of hard candy or a lollipop can help to moisten the mouth and alleviate the feeling of thirst.
  19. Case for storing Glasses or Contact Lenses
  20. Parenting books – Many women like to have reference books about parenting on hand to review following the delivery.
  21. Baby Book – It is usually possible to get the nurses to take the baby book to the nursery and place the baby’s footprints inside it at the same time they do the footprints for the birth certificate. This eliminates a messy process at home.
  22. Large Envelope or Folder – This can provide a place to keep any loose papers from registration or other sources at the hospital.
  23. Tube Sock Filled with Tennis Balls or Rice – Many women have found that placing a tube sock filled with tennis balls or rice between the small of their back and the bed provides some relief from the pain of contractions. Uncooked rice has the added advantage of being able to be heated in a microwave to provide heat therapy as well as support for the back.

Items Needed by the Baby

  1. Car Seat with Head Support – All states have laws in place requiring the use of child safety seats. The hospital will not allow the baby to leave the premises until one is provided and passes their inspection.
  2. Clothes to wear home
  3. Hat – Babies lose the majority of their body heat through their heads. A hat will help keep the heat in and maintain the baby’s body temperature.
  4. Booties or Socks
  5. Blankets – Babies love to be wrapped and swaddled in soft materials. Receiving blankets make excellent choices for wrapping the baby in as they are very soft and help keep the baby warm.
  6. Diapers – Newborn sized diapers should be available. Most that are designed specifically for newborns have a notch in the front for the navel area. If this notch is absent, the front should be folded down below the navel.
  7. Baby Wipes – Baby wipes should be formulated for newborns or sensitive skin to avoid using harsh chemicals on the baby’s skin.
  8. Mittens – Many newborns have finger nails that are long enough to scratch their little faces. Mittens can provide protection from scratches until the baby’s nails can be trimmed.
  9. Formula – If the mother does not plan to breast feed, she should provide the formula that has been chosen for the baby to the hospital so that there is no chance of difficulties caused by changing formula.

Items a Partner may Need

  1. Pajamas and extra Clothes – A partner may need a pair of pajamas and a change of clothes if the hospital stay lasts longer than anticipated.
  2. Bathing suit – If a couple plans to make use of a birthing pool, the partner will need a bathing suit to wear during the time in the pool.
  3. Toiletries – Just like the mother, a partner will feel more comfortable if he has access to his own toothbrush and toothpaste and other necessary items.
  4. Snacks and Drinks – Labor and delivery can take several hours. If a cooler is kept handy with drinks, sandwiches, and snack items, the partner will not need to make as many trips away from the mother’s side to get food and drink.
  5. Quarters – Quarters for use in vending machines and pay phones may be a necessity. Many hospitals do not allow the use of cell phones and the partner will usually have many phone calls to make following the delivery.
  6. A watch that has a second hand – Partners are often asked to time contractions and perform other functions for the mother that require the ability to time things to the second.
  7. Video or Still Camera – Many new families choose to film the birth of the baby. Even if filming is not chosen, a camera will come in handy for taking pictures of the newborn.
  8. Address Book – This will come in handy as a reference material when the partner is trying to find the phone numbers of the people he is expected to call.
  9. Massage Oils – A large number of labor classes teach partners about the use of massage oils and massage to help relieve the pain associated with back labor.
  10. CD/CD Player – Many couples find that listening to music chosen to suit their particular tastes help them to relax more completely between contractions and after the baby is born.
  11. Take out Menus – Many take out restaurants offer delivery services.
    Items needed for Siblings
  • Coloring or Activity Books with Crayons or Markers
  • Books and Toys
  • Snacks
  • Special Camera for taking photos of the baby
  • Gift from Sibling to Baby – Many older siblings like to choose a special gift for the new baby.
  • Gift from Mom and Baby to Sibling – Some older siblings become jealous as the birth of a new baby nears. Giving them a special gift can help to ease these feelings of jealousy and let the older children know that they are still important members of the family.
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